Despite an "off year" due to the COVID pandemic, the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce came back bigger and better before in 2021.
Due to social distancing limitations and a lack of a suitable venue, we traded our annual banquet and installation of officers for a luncheon held in the R. Gerald Hethcoat Community Center in Williston City Hall.
Directors Kurt Richardson and Kayla Martin tossed out the idea of a "touch-a-truck on steroids" event and so our first Miles of Smiles was held at the Williston Municipal Airport. With a hundred exhibitors and participants, we entertained more than 2,000 people, raised some funds and gathered donations for the Williston United Methodist Church Food Pantry. We lived up to the name "Miles of Smiles" as it was a fun day for everyone involved.
Beginning in April, we forged ahead through the months with our annual beef raffle, Peanut Festival, Steers & Beers fundraiser and Williston Winter Wonderland.
The success of all the Chamber's events allowed us to retire a 20-year-old debt in October and our board of directors all breathed a sigh of relief.
At the October Lunch & Learn, hosted by Cookie King Real Estate, members were presented with a State of the Chamber briefing.
Below is an excerpt of what five years has meant to the Chamber and its members:
State of the Chamber 2017-2021
In January 2017 the Chamber had
· 113 members
· $1,288 in the General Fund
· $50,355 in unsecured debt from the Wings Over Williston airshow
Today the Chamber has
· 120 members
· $18,316 in the General Fund
· ZERO in unsecured debt
In 2017 the Chamber had
· An annual banquet
· The Peanut Festival
· The Christmas parade
Today the Chamber has
· An annual banquet
· Miles of Smiles event for children
· Beef Raffle
· Peanut Festival
· Steers & Beers dinner
· Christmas parade
· Williston Wonderland
· Monthly luncheons
· Interactive website managed inhouse
· Active social media accounts
· Business of the Month
· Handles donations for the Veterans Memorial in Heritage Park
· Free workshops for Chamber members (social media and QuickBooks)
· Art Show
· Cookie baking contest
· July 4 decorating contest, photo contest, Christmas decorating contest
What the Chamber also does:
· We display your business brochures and business cards
· We send out informational packets to prospective residents
· We refer Chamber members to locals and tourists alike. Only members are referred
· We provide tourism information to people who call or come in the office
· We answer questions, lots of questions, to people who have them.
· We email your business information to the membership when requested
· We share your business information on social media
· We network with other chambers of commerce
· We handle almost all the Chamber marketing via print and radio
· We recruit new members
· We need volunteers for events, office and luncheons
· We need sponsors for luncheons, mixers and business after hours
· We need ideas for evening or Saturday workshops that will be beneficial to members
· We need ideas for member recruitment/retention incentives
Thanks to the generosity of our business community through event sponsorships, we have been able to not only provide family-friendly events for the community but also keep membership dues at the same rate, provide free monthly luncheons for members and their guests, keep Peanut Festival participation the same rate and offer a Christmas party in Heritage Park that is all free to everyone who attends.
With the financial success the Chamber had in 2021, the board of directors was able to extend the hours the Chamber office is open allowing the executive director to better serve the needs of the members and tourists who are once again visiting the area.
In 2022, we plan to continue to bring our annual favorites to the community and perhaps add a new event or two as we go along.
This year we have an economic/business team, chaired by Betsy Langan and Heidi Schwiebert, whose focus is to meet-and-greet existing members and recruit other businesses to our membership. They need assistance so if you have a few hours a week and would like to help out, contact the office for more information.
The Chamber's success depends on its members.
We welcome your input, your volunteer hours and your support as we look forward to an exciting year.
Carolyn Ten Broeck